Tag Archive | Toronto

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre: Healing Patients and Helping the Environment


Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is a facility that was chosen for the 2014 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers, and for good reason. The Toronto-based hospital has implemented and continues to implement green initiatives in five key areas, including: environmental programs; energy conservation; waste management; sustainable transportation; procurement; and an education and awareness campaign.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has implemented exemplary sustainable transportation initiatives such as using hybrid vehicles for its security personnel and Smart cars for its parking and transportation staff. The hospital has also introduced the ZIP Car shared use program (for patients and visitors) and secure bicycle parking cages. In partnership with Smart Commute and Curbside Cycle, Sunnybrook hosted the “Most Unlikely Cyclist” contest to demonstrate that cycling to work is truly an option. Last year’s winner received a new bike and hosted a blog to share her experiences as she transitioned into a two-wheeled commuter.Sunnybrook

The hospital also implemented a water conservation program and waste management programs as a part of its green environment initiatives. Its water conservation program consisted of the installation of over 1,100 low-flush toilets. This one change allowed the hospital to save over 185 million litres of water annually. In addition, its waste management initiatives have included an enhanced recycling and reuse program (including a reusable meal container program); composting programs; use of environmentally friendly cleaning products; and the introduction of a unique florescent bulb “eater” machine that breaks down bulbs into recyclable material while capturing 99.99% of the potentially harmful vapors. Also, in response to feedback from anesthesiologists in 2004, Sunnybrook installed a unique Canadian-made anesthetic gas absorption technology to reduce (by 95 percent) the amount of waste gas released into the environment. This new gas absorption technology will prevent the release of over 470 tonnes of C02-equivalent gases into the atmosphere (which is about the equivalent of removing 150 cars from the road). Overall, Sunnybrook’s current energy improvements are estimated to save $2.6M and reduce C02 emissions by 8,965 tonnes annually; that is the equivalent of taking 1,410 cars from the road.

To visit the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre website, click here.

To learn more about Sunnybrook’s green energy initiatives and why it was chosen for the 2014 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers, click here.

Corus Entertainment: Delivering Entertainment in a Sustainable Way


In addition to being one of Canada’s most successful integrated media and entertainment companies, Corus Entertainment has received accolades such as being among the 2013 list of Canada’s Greenest Employers and the 2013 list of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. The company owns 39 radio stations and delivers numerous television services, and it does so in a sustainable way.

Corus Quay, the new Toronto headquarters for Corus Entertainment, has implemented a number of eco-friendly initiatives. The building is accessible by public transportation, and the company encourages sustainable forms of transportation by offering 75 tenant-exclusive bicycle racks. Moreover, Corus Entertainment has taken steps toward water and energy conservation. The company has installed low-flow water fixtures throughout the building and a rooftop cistern that collects rainwater, initiatives that have resulted in Corus Entertainment reducing water consumption by upwards of 30%. A Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) system has been installed throughout the interior of the building, which consists of occupancy sensors that provide light only when someone is present and a daylight harvesting technique that dims the ballasts when natural light is abundant. These system features have reduced the amount of energy required by the lighting system by upwards of 30%. Energy efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment that is programmed based on solar exposure, location, occupancy, and space utilization has also been installed in the building. Also, carbon dioxide sensors have been installed to measure the approximate number of occupants in a particular area at any given time—information that is used to determine the exact amount of ventilated air required in a specific area, thereby reducing the amount of energy required for the HVAC system.


During the Corus Quay construction process, more than 75% of construction waste was diverted from landfills by salvaging materials for reuse and recycling. In addition, upwards of 20% of the materials used in the construction of Corus Quay’s interiors were made from recycled content, reducing the amount of energy required in the production of the materials. Upwards of 10% of the materials used were both extracted and manufactured locally. The wood wall treatment in the Orientation and Atrium space is reclaimed hemlock from a 1910 ferry terminal wharf in Toronto Harbour. The use of local goods and materials promotes the growth of local businesses and reduces the energy required to transport materials and products to the construction site.

Corus Quay features green rooftops that help reduce the heat-island effect. It also features a five story biowall in the Atrium. The plants that compose the biowall naturally clean the air and reduce energy consumption, improving air quality in the building.

To visit the Corus Entertainment website, click here.

To learn more about Corus Entertainment’s sustainability initiatives, click here.

North America’s First Zoo Biogas Plant to be Built at the Toronto Zoo


ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc., a non-profit renewable energy co-operative, is set to develop the first North American zoo biogas facility at the Toronto Zoo. Biogas is a type of renewable energy that converts organic waste into energy and fertilizer using a process called anaerobic digestion. The specific types of organic waste that the ZooShare Biogas Co-operative will use at the Toronto Zoo will be animal waste and food waste from local grocery stores. The animal and food waste will be converted into electricity, heat and fertilizer, benefiting both the local community and the environment.

The process of anaerobic digestion begins with the waste being fed at regular intervals into an anaerobic digester. ZooShare Biogas Executive Director Daniel Bida likens the anaerobic digester to a big concrete stomach, wherein the organic waste is heated to 38 degrees Celsius and continuously mixed. About sixty days into this process, the waste is transformed into biogas (which consists of 65% methane and 35% carbon dioxide gas) and digestate (fertilizer). The resulting biogas can be used to create electricity, piped into the natural gas grid, or converted into vehicle fuel, and the fertilizer is suitable for farms or backyard gardens.


Biogas has a number of benefits:

  1. It can generate electricity for twenty-four hours a day and for seven days a week.

  2. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  3. It diverts waste from landfills.

  4. It can be produced from any organic waste source.

  5. The end product is a nutrient-rich, odour-free fertilizer.

Construction of the Toronto Zoo biogas plant is slated for July of 2014, which could make the plant operational by December of 2014. The plant will consist of input and output tanks, an engine room and a classroom. All in all, it will occupy one and a half acres of the zoo’s land.

Although the construction cost is estimated at $5.4 million, the benefits of the biogas plant will be worth the cost. The 500-kilowatt plant will provide enough electricity to power over 250 households. In addition, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12,000 tonnes (the equivalent of removing 2,100 cars off the road).

To learn more about the ZooShare Biogas Co-operative, click here.

To read The Toronto Observer article on the ZooShare Biogas’ Toronto Zoo project, click here.

Connections in Cow-Town

The drive to Calgary went quickly, and I soon arrived at the school for my presentation. I was tired from the early drive, but the show went well, the kids enjoyed the singing as always, and were thrilled with the colourful stickers I handed out at the end. Then it was on to Nikki’s house. I hadn’t seen this friend in years–we had met in London, England nearly ten years earlier, and it was she who had initially introduced me to my publisher and his wife. Nikki and I had met online while looking for a baseball team in London (a difficult thing to find, it turns out). But we found each other, discovered that we were both from the same part of the world, and had both attended UVIC. Next thing you know, she had introduced me to a network of ex-pats from Vancouver and Victoria, and I suddenly had a new social circle. When we returned to Canada we wound up on different ends, her in Victoria and me in Toronto, so over the years we lost touch, but now here she was in Calgary, offering to host me for my ten-day stint in the city. The oddest part was, in a completely unrelated twist of fate, since I had seen her last she had married a man who had played soccer with my brother when they were boys, and who had been coached by my father. So I suppose our friendship was meant to me.

My snowy suburban neighbourhood in Calgary

My snowy suburban neighbourhood in Calgary

I arrived at a pretty little house in a cute suburban neighbourhood, and was greeted at the door by Nikki, a rust-coloured lab, and a red-haired baby. I was smitten at once but the baby, who promptly crawled right up to me at speed, grabbed my pants and pulled himself to standing, thrust his arms toward me and said ‘up!’ Wow. I’d never met a friendlier baby. Their dog was equally gregarious, and greeted me at the door every time I came in throughout the course of my stay. So I often found myself in this house with a copper-haired baby on my hip and a copper-coated dog at my heels, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Nikki and I soon caught up, and I was delighted to find her to be the kindest and most energetic of hostesses. I had a large room and a bathroom all to myself in the basement,= so I was more than comfortable in my new lodgings. Her husband had many funny stories to share about his soccer days with my brother, and we spent much time reminiscing about our days in London.

The weather most days was cold, crisp and bright, and I often came out to a snow-covered or entirely frozen vehicle in the mornings. The show I was working was located at the opposite end of town, and as it turns out, Calgary is a fairly well spread-out city. I was shocked to discover that this little town of only 1 million could possibly possess so many highways that seemed to go on quite literally forever. My first weekend there, all I saw was the suburb where I was staying, the tradeshow grounds, and endless stretches of highway. The show was located in a series of buildings in the middle of a huge snowy field surrounded by numerous parking lots, and navigation was a major challenge. It was just so vast! My booth was in a building called the Riding Hall, that normally houses horses when it’s not filled with vendors hawking Christmas wares. The Spruce Meadows show was fabled to be the busiest tradeshow around. I actually had other vendors approaching the first morning to tell me how great the show was last year, and how everyone was expecting big things this year. I was braced for a busy first day.

A common site on my Calgary mornings–one very frosty Sonata.

A common site on my Calgary mornings–one very frosty Sonata.

You could have heard a pin drop at times, the place was so quiet. Everyone was shocked. They had apparently extended last year’s ultra-busy show from two weekends to three, and had expanded the number of vendors substantially, which had the result of diluting the crowds to a significant degree. Vendors saw their sales drop to a fraction of what they has seen the previous year, and our first day wound up being the slowest of the tour so far. The entire first weekend was much the same, with the weakest sales of the trip yet. Spirit Bear sold well in spite of this, still keeping pace with the other books and even outselling them at times, which was surprising, as I found myself pitching it last, or not at all, since the other books were so much easier to get people excited about. But some people would gravitate to the tiny paperback, and again, people here seemed to know about the spirit bear, or to at least be curious, so this was heartening.

After the show was over, I had the rest of the week free, save for a few school visits here and there, so I decided to see the city. I made plans to meet with my childhood friend Mick, who I had last seen when he was about about 8 or 9 years of age. He was in his 30’s now, so this would be quite the reunion. We spoke on the phone and agreed to meet at a place called Model Milk on 17th, a street in Calgary famous for its hip bars and restaurants. I showed up a little late, and found Mick sitting at the bar inside. Now 6’2, this baby-faced child who had always been smaller than me (I am four years older) had grown into a bearded adult that towered over me. The funny thing was, in spite of the beard, his face hadn’t changed all that much, he was still the same boy with dark features and big brown eyes that I remembered from so many years ago. After greeting each other with a hug, we made our way upstairs to another bar where we had the pleasure of watching the chefs prepare our meal. Model Milk turned out to be a fantastic place–formerly an historic former dairy building in uptown Calgary, this character building had been converted into a trendy resto-bar featuring locally-sourced, ethical ingredients made into some very inventive takes on classic dishes. We both ordered the (sustainable) sea bass, and enquired as to what exactly made it so sustainable. The waiter happily explained that they worked hard to ensure that all of the fish served in their restaurant was purchased from ethical fisheries, and only featured fish that were not endangered or overfished. We were quite pleased to be able to enjoy such guilt-free, healthy meal. It was like a scene right out of Portlandia.

Our ethical Calgary dinner spot, Model Milk on 17th

Our ethical Calgary dinner spot, Model Milk on 17th

Mick and I caught up over dinner, and I learned that he owned a profitable snow-clearing business in town. We reminisced about the times when we had played together at each other’s houses in Edmonton and North Vancouver, and I brought up the time that I had made him cry by claiming dislike of his favourite movie, the Never Ending Story. It turned out that he was still a committed fan, and a heated and hilarious debate broke out over which 1980’s children’s movies had the best entertainment value.

When the food arrived, we found that the portions were smallish, but the taste was incredible, and the ingredients truly unique. The price reflected the high-quality ingredients, but I have to say it was worth the money. How can you put a price tag on a guilt-free meal?

After dinner we made our way to Local 510 for a drink, where I was amazed by the friendliness of the staff and the customers. Everyone seemed to know each other, and the vibe was so upbeat and happy, it was truly enjoyable being there. By the end of the night Mick had me convinced that I had to come back for the Stampede, when the entire city apparently shuts down and turns into one big dress-up party, where everyone comes kitted out in cowboy gear. He told me that the hat, boots and belt buckle were more or less requisite, and that the one year he’d decided to dress like a civilian he had felt so out of place that he’d come dressed to the nines every year since. Sounds like my kind of party.

Nikki had a couple of family parties that week, and made a lovely dinner for Troy and I one evening (Troy was also in town working an Arts and Crafts show), so I was kept quite entertained throughout the week. The second weekend the sales were better at the show, thankfully, the final Sunday being the best of all. We had one more weekend to go at the market but I wasn’t to work it. Troy had arranged for a friend to fill in at Spruce Meadows while I made the the journey up to For Mac.

My new bed-buddy took up a little more room than the last one...

My new bed-buddy took up a little more room than the last one…

My last night in town Nikki had 20 family members over for a big dinner, and the house was buzzing with happy children and chattering adults. Always the helpful friend, Nikki insisted on bringing out my books and wound up selling several to her guests. It was a great last night in town, and the next morning I set out early once again to Edmonton, where I had another school visit scheduled. I waved goodbye to my wonderful hosts, their cherubic baby and loving dog, and hit the highway again.

A few hours later I was back in Edmonton, and doing another school presentation. I really enjoy these shows, reading The Night Before a Canadian Christmas, singing A Moose in a Maple Tree and Canadian Jingle Bells along with the kids, discussing various Canadian icons and even doing a bit of teaching about Canadian history and geography. At one school visit in Calgary, the children had surprised me by asking about Spirit Bear. How did they know? Spirit Bear wasn’t advertised in the materials we had sent out to the school, and I hadn’t mentioned a word about it at the presentation. I didn’t even have a copy with me at the time, so I couldn’t offer to sell one to the little girl who came up to me with each in hand and asked to buy one. I was stunned. How had they heard about this? The teacher explained that she had Googled me the day before and found information about Spirit Bear online, so she had shared it with the class. I didn’t have anything with me at the time, so I just opened a file on my computer for my business card that had an image of Annuk on it to show to the kids. They had recently learned about the spirit bear in class as well, so they were all very keen to talk about the bear and hear about the book. After that I decided to start integrating Spirit Bear into my presentations, showing the kids pages from the book and talking about the animals. It turned out to be a great way to end the show, and I found the kids loved learning about the wildlife featured in the story. And what’s more, I loved teaching them about it.

They don't have one of these in Eaton's Centre...

They don’t have one of these in Eaton’s Centre…

After my presentation I headed back to Mick’s parent’s house where I was to stay for another three days. They were delighted to hear that we had reunited and had so much fun together. I went to bed early that night and had another school presentation the next day. Afterwards I jumped in the car and drove straight to West Edmonton Mall. I hadn’t been there since the days when I’d  played with Mick and his brother, and I had great memories of the place. It turns out that it’s just as amazing as an adult. Wave pool! Zip-lines! Underwater Caverns! Stingrays! Pirate ship! Bowling! Roller coasters! Skating rink! What a mall! Really, every mall should have a place where you can PET live stingrays. That really was the highlight, descending into the Underwater Caverns just in time for the stingray feeding and getting a full presentation from the naturalist on site. I was amazed to watch these flat grey creatures behaving just as dogs might, swimming around in circles splashing onlookers and flapping their wings over the rocks at the edge of the enclosure. We were told we could put our hands in the water and pet them, and these wonderful creatures would actually swim right up and allow us to stroke their soft, wet, silky backs. Then the trainer hand-fed each one, identifying them by name, and explaining how each had their own personality when it came to feeding time–one splashing and causing a ruckus so he’d be fed first, another hanging back until the rest had had their fill, then gliding up for an uninterrupted and peaceful meal. It was truly amazing, and I decided I wanted one for my bathtub back home.

Turns out stingrays can be rather affectionate…

Turns out stingrays make affectionate pets…

In all seriousness, though, I am not big on seeing wild animals in captivity in general, so I asked the naturalist where they came from. It turned out that many were rescues with sad stories. Like the giant sea turtles that had been owned by a drug dealer and were caught being smuggled across the American Border. These turtles were in such bad shape and had been in captivity for so long that they could no longer be released into the wild. And the South African penguins, she explained, came from a habitat so polluted that were these birds to be released into the wild, their chances of survival would be incredibly slim. They were actually a part of a breeding program intended to keep the species going should they become extinct in the wild, which seems very likely. This story was so sad to hear, but in a way it reinforced for me how aquariums could have value for such animals, by keeping endangered populations alive and educating the public about their plight. Poor penguins. Who thought you could learn all of this in a mall??

I'm going to have to come back for the roller-coaster

A roller coaster! In a mall!!!

After checking out the pirate ship and the wave pool, I eventually found the roller-coaster and immediately bought a ticket. I was gutted to discover the ride had already closed (I’d spent too much time with the stingrays), and I was offered a refund. I guess I’ll have to return one day to make my dream of riding a roller-coaster in a mall a reality.

Next Blog: Tar Sands Trouble

The Back Story

My first published book as an illustrator, A Moose in a Maple Tree, was copied by Scholastic. Ironically, this is what truly kickstarted my publishing career.

My first published book as an illustrator, A Moose in a Maple Tree, was copied by Scholastic. Ironically, this is what truly kickstarted my publishing career.

Ever since I got into children’s publishing in 2007, I have been inundated with questions from curious folks who seem fascinated by what I am doing and who want to do the same thing. It is astonishing how often people ask me, once they hear what I do, ‘How did you get into that? I have a GREAT idea for a children’s book myself…’ or, ‘I’ve always wanted to write my own children’s book, any advice?’ 

The short answer is that there isn’t one.

It’s a tough game, and one that I am still learning to navigate every day.

In the interest of sharing my experiences with more people,  I have decided to keep a regular diary of my experiences building Eco Books 4 Kids, writing Spirit Bear, and launching and promoting the book. It’s been a crazy ride so far, and I think it’s going to get a whole lot more interesting, so I may as well share it with you. But first I guess I should explain how it all really started.

People always ask me, why children’s books? Did I go to school for this? Take a course?

The answer is no. As long as I can remember, I have been writing stories in my head. On my walk home from elementary school I’d be creating stories about mermaids, fairies and elves and talking to myself like a crazy person. In the summertime my brother and I would play in the woods near our house, and make up fantasies about witches, warriors, dinosaurs and dragons which we acted out in a series of vignettes with various friends. A girlfriend and I created an entire alternate universe populated with alien beings that we wrote elaborate stories around. I once wrote a play about a purse-snatcher while mucking about with some friends in my basement that we wound up performing in front of the entire school a few months later. I just loved making stuff up.

I think I got through school essentially because I had great writing skills. I wasn’t particularly gifted in any other subjects, with the exception of art, (and biology, only because I adored it and worked at it furiously), but it’s incredible how the ability to spell, conjugate and whip out a decent essay in a single evening can get you through almost any subject. My tendency towards ADHD prevented me from becoming a true scholar, but I had the ability to cram and regurgitate, which sadly works in our educational system, so that someone like myself can coast through school on A’s and B’s without actually truly learning or retaining much at all. Pair that with great writing skills, and you can look darned smart. I assure you this is in no way the case.

At any rate, after an ill-fated decision to pursue a BA in Anthropology, (with a minor in Environmental Studies, my true passion), I eventually stumbled into graphic design, one of the few industries where artistic types can earn a reasonable and stable living. I did this for 12 years and never loved it, often hated it. Always I had children’s books in the back of my mind, but it seemed like a pipe dream. Doesn’t everyone want to write a children’s book? Turns out, they do. Why should my work be worthy of print?

So I scribbled ideas, sketched characters, wrote rhyming couplets. I have notes all over my apartment for numerous book ideas that I think have merit. I completed one, a rhyming tongue-twister about a selfish shellfish that I have always meant to illustrate and shop around, but I found it incredibly difficult to believe that my own ideas could really be truly valued by others. So I kept them stored away, nicely warm toasty on my great big back burner.

Then came Troy. I met him and his finance in London England where I lived for a couple of years on a working visa. Awesome people. We kept in touch over the years, and he knew I liked to draw. He told me he wanted to write children’s books and that he’d like me to illustrate for him. I said ‘Sure Troy, sure.’ Didn’t everybody say they wanted to do that? I figured it would never happen.

Troy was an Aussie, so when he and Cheryl-Lynn finally returned to Canada and wed, he was forced to live as her dependent for a year before he was able to take paid work in the country. That’s how we treat our Commonwealth immigrants in Canada.

This turned out to be a good thing for Troy, though, as he now had the time freed up to work on his dream of publishing. He decided to compile a book of recipes made with wine from BC wineries, complete with beautiful full-colour photos of the dishes featured. Very clever, the wineries supplied the the recipes and the photos, happy to get a bit of free PR. Everyone likes wine and food, and the book took off. Soon he had a series and a nice little publishing company called Polyglot.

Troy's first book was a hit, and signalled the birth of Polyglot, the publishing company that would produce my first book series.

Troy’s first book was a hit, and signalled the birth of Polyglot, the publishing
company that would produce my first illustrated book series.

That’s when he approached me to draw for him. I was amazed and thrilled – this was actually HAPPENING!!! I took to the job with relish. I had an older laptop and little free time, and the advance he gave me was enough to support me for exactly two weeks, but I didn’t mind. I was going to be a children’s book illustrator!!!

Many months of hard work later, we had a little paperback on the shelves called A Moose in a Maple Tree. I was never truly pleased (artists never are) with my illustrations, as I felt I hadn’t had the time or technology to make the effort I would have liked. So for three years Troy promoted the book on his own, working trade shows, calling up independent book stores and begging them to stock us, and working with Sandhill, our distributor, to get us into Chapters and Indigo among other places. I sat back and accepted the royalties, but that was the extent of my involvement.

He did great,  our book immediately received a thumbs up from Don Cherry. Story-telling legend Robert Munsch called it a “wonderful book” and CM Magazine gave it 4/4 stars. It has been at the top of the BC best-sellers list every Christmas since it’s release.

I would receive a small cheque every Christmas, the largest of which equalled just over $2000. Not exactly money you can live on, but a nice little bonus for doing nothing, and you get to say you have a book published.

Then came the Scholastic debacle. Troy had sent our book to them twice, once to see if they’d publish us, then a second time to see if they were interested in distributing. Both times he received a firm ‘no thanks.’ But then in October 2010, Scholastic  published  A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, a book with some pretty incredible similarities to ours. We were dumbfounded. It was ANOTHER 12 Days of Canadian Christmas.  With beavers, moose, maple leaves, mounties and even sled dogs. Our 5 hockey sticks were replaced with 5 Stanley Cups.

But the kicker for me was the ending. When Troy wrote the book, the final page was simply meant to be a repeat of the first, a moose sitting in a maple tree. Funny, right? But I thought it sounded like all of these other creatures were being added to the tree as well–whales, polar bears, lobsters, mounties, totem poles… a big crazy jumble of Canadian animals and icons, all up in this maple tree with the moose. It turned out to be a great idea and made the ending infinitely funnier. Guess who else thought it was funny and did the same thing? Scholastic. I was hurt.

Of course Troy questioned them, and they tiptoed around the truth, claiming lack of awareness of our book (despite having  it sent to them twice), then changing their story and claiming they did know about us before they went to press, but it was just a coincidence, they had magically come up with the EXACT same idea, with the same ingredients and ending. Parallel creativity. Only ours came out three years earlier.  And we sent it to them. Twice.

At any rate, fighting a monster like Scholastic would be like fighting city hall and would just make us look bad (it’s children’s books, right? Canadian CHRISTMAS children’s books to be exact). Scholastic knew this, of course–how else could they justify such a blatant theft? Canadian copyright laws favour  loopholes, so we fell right through one.

The silver lining, after the initial outrage, was that WE GOT COPIED!!! By SCHOLASTIC!!! The concept was good!!! And the Porcupine was selling like hotcakes, it was a runaway national best-seller! Imagine what we could have done with Scholastic’s money and distribution power. But all we had was Troy and his one-man publishing show and our little West-coast distributor Sandhill.

The similarities between our book and Scholastic's were impossible to ignore. But in the end, it only gave us added faith in our own product.

The similarities between our book and Scholastic’s were impossible to ignore.
But in the end, it only gave us added faith in our own product.

But this was still good news.

Troy approached me to update MIAMT’s illustrations and release two more he had written, The Night Before a Canadian Christmas and Canadian Jingle Bells, all of which would be released in hard-cover. The same month he asked for my help, I got laid off from my job. It was fate. I was living with a boyfriend at the time, and being a creative type himself, he offered to support me while I worked on the books, so that I could get a new career started. I hate to say it, but that’s essentially what it takes. You need money or a supportive partner in order to put in the time necessary to do something truly substantial. I’m not saying you can’t chip away at it in your spare time and make it work, but it will take much longer and be far more difficult.

[As an aside, I would just like to say that I am eternally grateful to Michael Arnott for the support he gave me that year to create and then promote my book series. A bit of freelance work helped to keep me afloat, but without his support I could never have produced the results that I did. And though we are no longer a couple, we remain the best of friends, and I have pledged to do the same for him–to help him to get a leg-up with his creative work so that he can quit his day job as an art director at a children’s toy company. He is the illustrator of my new book Spirit Bear, and I plan to create a series of books with him that I hope to have success with so we can both ultimately pursue our dreams of leading truly creative lives.]

So I drew for the next six months. I brought MIAMT to a level I was finally pleased with, and created two new books for a three-book series. AND Troy put together a 12-song compilation CD with the songs from our books, plus 9 other Christmas songs by Canadian artists. Now we really had something.

That Christmas, we were back with a vengeance. And now that I knew our book had value and I felt better about my final product, I wanted to be a part of promoting it. I sold the book at tradeshows, did Christmas concerts in schools, contacted media, got us reviews and pr in newspapers and magazines. I even managed to get a spot on CTV Morning Live in Saskatoon, and leveraged that appearance into getting our books onto the shelves of all the Indigo and Coles stores in the city. It was fantastic.


Our new series boasts three hard-cover books, plus a Christmas compilation CD.
All uniquely Canadian.

We cracked the top ten nationally with two of our titles, and MIAMT clocked in at No. 5, hot on the heels of Porcupine in a Pine Tree’s No.1 ranking. That Christmas I made $10,000. Suddenly this was looking like more of a THING. If only I had more books under my belt to promote year round, then I’d really be cooking with gas.

And that was when I came up with the idea for Spirit Bear.

Next blog:

Getting Inspired.

Old Man and the River: Senator’s Fight for Montana Waterway

The North Fork of the Flathead River in northwestern Montana, the heart of Senator Max Baucus’ decades long effort to safeguard the area from mining companies.

The North Fork begins in British Columbia and flows 45 miles (72 kilometers) through undeveloped provincial forest there. After crossing into Montana, it continues for an approximately equal distance, defining the western boundary of Glacier National Park, before joining the Flathead’s Middle Fork. The North Fork Valley is a corridor for wolves and lynx as well as grizzlies and bull trout, and a haven for an incredible diversity of plants and aquatic insects.

Only a tiny percentage of the valley is private property; most is public land. My own 32-acre patch of paradise is surrounded on three sides by the Flathead National Forest, and on the fourth by the river. But public land can be leased for mining, oil and gas drilling, and other purposes. For decades the valley has faced one industrial threat after another.

Baucus’s commitment to safeguarding it began shortly after he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1974. A Toronto-based mining corporation had proposed a massive open-pit coal-mining operation and coal-fired power plant near Cabin Creek, a Canadian tributary of the North Fork, just six miles from the northwestern corner of Glacier Park.

All at once, the wild, remote, and largely pristine nature of the valley was at serious risk.

Read the full story here.

Guarding the Gifts

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The ancient Great Bear Rainforest is one of the largest tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world (21 million acres), and is home to thousands of species of plants, birds and animals. In this lush rainforest stand, 1,000-year-old cedar trees and 90-metre tall Sitka spruce trees. Rich salmon streams weave through valley bottoms that provide food for magnificent creatures such as orcas (killer whales), eagles, wolves, black bears, grizzlies, and the rare Spirit bear.

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Close to sixty percent of the world’s original coastal temperate rainforests have been destroyed as a result of logging and development. North America’s ancient temperate rainforest once stretched the Pacific coast from southeast Alaska to northern California. Today, more than half of this rainforest is gone and not a single undeveloped, unlogged coastal watershed 5,000 hectares or larger remains south of the Canadian border.

For more on the Great Bear Rainforest, visit Guarding the Gifts, a charitable organization located in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded in 2010 by members of the Gitga’at First Nation and King Pacific Lodge (a resort operating in Gitga’at territory), Guarding the Gifts has established itself as a world class model for youth empowerment and environmental conservation. Click link below to visit website.

Guarding the Gifts

IdentityPollution’s First Artist Alley Project

This Kickstarter Campaign reached it’s goal of $2,500 earning $2,395 between March 20 – April 30, 2013.

My name is Damien Murphy, I go by IdentityPollution (my artist name) online. I have dreamed of selling my art at an artist alley table since I began going to conventions 7 or so years ago. This year I finally feel I am confident enough in my abilities to step out into the alley, expand my audience and kickstart my art career with the support of my beloved wife, Rebecca as my helper!

However getting started at your first table is expensive and this is where I need to ask for help. In order to sell at any convention you need to buy table space, at a big convention like FanExpo table space is $474.60 after tax. But you can’t have a table without prints! In order to produce a large quantity of high quality prints I have set a printing budget of $500. All extra funds raised above our original goal will go to bringing our customers and backers exciting new products and better rewards!

I will be producing more art from my personal fandoms (Sherlock, Doctor Who, Merlin, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Disney, Marvel, Supernatural, ect.) as well as other fandoms I’m not a part of to cater to a larger crowd so if you don’t see any art you want right now there will be much more added with-in the next 5 months. If you purchase the PRETTY AWESOME PACK or THE MASTERPIECE PACK you can request anyone you want, it may even be used for the convention!

IdentityPollution’s First Artist Alley

The Eve to Believe

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This is the Kickstarter campaign for a children’s book called ‘The Eve to Believe,’ A heartwarming, wholesome Christmas story ready to find its way into the hands of kids of all ages.

With only six days to go on his campaign, author/illustrator Mark Schaeffer needs all the help he can get to raise his $10,000 goal. He has written, illustrated, designed and self-published a hard-cover and paperback, and created an interactive ebook. He is seeking funds to print, distribute, advertise and market his amazing book.

The story’s wonderful, classic illustrations are truly exceptional.  Schaeffer’s talent is undeniable, yet his Kickstarter campaign has not received the attention it deserves. Please watch his video, donate, and pass this story along to your social networks!!

The Eve to Believe

CSR Eco Solutions


CSR Eco Solutions manages the redistribution of redundant assets on behalf of corporations, government institutions and healthcare facilities. 

We donate, recycle, and recover value for your organization’s surplus office furniture, equipment and supplies. 

Our Vision
We are a Social Enterprise dedicated to minimizing your negative impact on the environment while maximizing your social impact by supporting the communities in which you operate. 

Our Actions

We offer a community driven solution for companies, governmental institutions, and healthcare facilities with redundant assets.

CSR Eco Solutions